2020 March 9

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Mar/9/2020 -- Your daily news summarized -- Today's major stories on Post-Revolution Changes, Anti-Corruption, Economy, Politics, Diaspora, Daily Life, and more...
by ar_david_hh

Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams ֏ unless specified otherwise.

QP has a draft bill that could provide paid 5-day vacation to fathers, within 30 days from the child's birth, at the expense of the employer.

"The father will have the ability to enjoy fatherhood, take care of the wife and kid. This is available in some states like France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal."


Another bill would prohibit the employer from firing the pregnant worker within 1 year after being informed of pregnancy. No firing between the maternity leave plus 1 year. At the moment, these protections last only 1 month.


Vstrechi Aper criminal figure charged / on the run

This link provides context on who Vstrechi Aper is: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/feiyx8/mar62020_your_daily_news_summarized_dont_miss


Last week the cops raided Aper's house. His nephew and neighbor were arrested. Today the cops issued an arrest warrant for Aper himself.


The police report says:

Aper organized the theft of a $25,000 BMW. The suspects blocked the car's path, made it stop, pulled the driver out, beat him, and stole the car. Aper knew the car owner.

Then, in 2019, Aper instructed his nephew to kidnap the car owner and tortured the man in Aper's house.

The conflict escalated in Mar-4-2020 when Aper instructed his nephew to shoot and kill the car owner. The shooting occurred and endangered nearby people. The victim was wounded.

The court has issued an arrest warrant in absentia for the organizer Vstrechi Aper. The accomplices were arrested last week. End of the police report.



Tag: #VstrechiAper

land embezzlement busted / Minister/ steps to return

The report says:

Prosecutors uncovered a 2015 illegal appropriation of 10m^2 govt-owned lands in Sevan National Park near Lake Sevan. Illegal buildings and fences were built. Local Drakhtik municipality officials purposely closed the eye on it.

In Dec-2016 the govt held an illegal auction and sold the land to a Buyer under the condition that he'd invest 250mln and build a resort area within 2 years.

In 2017, after the land was already illegally exploited, another permit was given to built fences.

They allowed this to happen because one of the former Ministers was building a villa on the land. The Dec-2016 permit was given based on a document forgery by the local mayor to allow the Minister's villa to be built.

A felony case is launched against the local mayor and Sevan National Park official. It was later dropped due to the statute of limitations and their confession.

The prosecutors will sue the former Minister to get the land back because he violated the terms and didn't build the required structures within the required time frame (that's one way to do it, I guess?)

Prosecutors contacted Nature Ministry to help with the lawsuit and to discuss what to do with the buildings on the land.


they don't like the asset forfeiture law

An "expert" gave an interview to Rob's media outlet during which he misleadingly presented the newly passed asset forfeiture law as if any person can be randomly picked and have their assets taken away.

The law, which has long been advocated by international experts, understandably wasn't welcomed by the former regime.


The law, however, only applies in the following scenarios:

1) If there is a court verdict about the corruption and there is evidence of stolen property. No forfeiture if the suspect can prove the transaction's legality.

2) If there is a felony corruption case and there is evidence that the property was obtained illegally. No forfeiture if the suspect can prove the transaction's legality.

3) If there is enough evidence that the property was obtained illegally, but it's impossible to launch a felony case for technical reasons, due to statute of limitations, the suspect being dead. No forfeiture if the suspect can prove the transaction's legality.

4) If there is evidence of illegal property but the name of the real suspect is unknown. No forfeiture if the suspect can prove the transaction's legality.

5) If there is suspicion that the public official, or his family, obtained property illegally. No forfeiture if the official can prove the transaction's legality.


No property under 25mln value can be taken.

The property cannot be taken if the person can prove its legality with "receipts", which shouldn't be hard if it was done legally.

Only public officials can become a subject of an investigation under a "mild suspicion". In other cases "strong evidence" is necessary.

The property can be taken away only through a court procedure.


Tag: AssetForfeiture

Marth 8th / Flowers / Cranes

It was Women's Day yesterday. The emergency crews used cranes to climb 2-story buildings to give flowers to women. Cops randomly stopped cars to distribute flowers.



Pashinyan traveled through rural areas and gave flowers to women.


feminists march against violence

A group of feminists marched and hit the drums to advocate for peace "at home and on the streets", over an incident that happened last week, during which a man killed his girlfriend and badly beat the little child.

Pashinyan visited the child in the hospital on Sunday. "She's getting better. She can breathe on her own."



women in politics and business

Breavis surveyed exclusively women.

Can women succeed in business?

  • 53% of Yerevan's women said yes.
  • 59% of provincial city women said yes.
  • 64% of rural women said yes.

Can women succeed in science?

  • 55% in Yerevan.
  • 55% in other cities.
  • 63% in rural.

Can women succeed in government?

  • 38% in Yerevan.
  • 51% in cities.
  • 48% in rural.

Middle-aged women had the highest confidence in business, while the youngest women in politics.


border clashes continue

Azeri army conducted a failed infiltration attempt on Friday, leaving 1 dead.

The ceasefire was violated again for 30 minutes on Sunday. An Armenian villager's house took bullet damage. Armenians fired back.

The Azeri army announced one more combat death on Saturday/Sunday, bringing the total count to 3 in two weeks.


Q: why did they become active?

Defense Ministry: that region is serviced by Azerbaijan's new Border Guard instead of the Defense Ministry directly. The Border Guard is trying to "prove" themselves.



opposite situation on the other border / border village access relaxed

Recently the govt decided to make it easier for people to visit villages near the Turkish-Armenian border, under supervision. Currently, you need a permit from the Russian/Armenian border guards. The process can last 1 month. Bad for tourism.

The Norshen (near Kharkov) settlement will open to visitors. The ancient Armenian capital "Ani", located on the other side of the border in Western Armenia, is only one river away from Norshen.

Norshen is the village with population ONE. Vahandukht tati, the sole resident, became a "celebrity" last year after receiving a 500k gift and flowers from Pashinyan, who promised to review the border policy.

Shirak Governor says they received 6 tourism-related business proposals thanks to Norshen's close proximity with Ani.

PICS: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/182403

Tati https://armtimes.com/hy/article/176691

coronavirus - now in theaters near you

Azerbaijan has 9 cases. Some of the 500 quarantined people resisted doctors and tried to escape.

The US issued a warning against traveling to Azerbaijan. Alarm level 3 out of 4 - "Reconsider Traveling". The State Department has no advisory against Armenia and Georgia.


The son of Georgia's CDC chief also got infected.

Georgia registered its 15th infection. The first instance of locals transmitting it to each other, with the other 14 cases coming from visitors. One doctor was infected. Jeffrey Epstein didn't die from coronavirus.


February travel to Georgia from Armenia -18%, from Russia -25%, from Turkey +4%, from Azerbaijan +13%.





Someone stole 11,000 masks and 1,000 bottles of alcohol gel from a French hospital. Cruel... http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/278748/


WHO says COVID will **not** disappear in summer as the common flu does. https://www.panorama.am/en/news/2020/03/07/coronavirus-WHO/2251651


"So far only 1 out of 203 tests came positive," said Armenian Healthcare Minister Torosyan.

"We'll reopen the schools on Monday," said Education Minister Arayik.






Italian soccer league is losing $27mln because of COVID.

Roma club used its midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan in a video to demonstrate how to wash your hands properly.

Rumor says they will also ask Heno to paint the stadium seats and fix the missing screws in benches.


Azeri hackers spreading Coronavirus fake news

Azeri hackers have been caught with using hacked Armenian Facebook accounts to spread fake news about the Armenian govt hiding dozens of cases of the Wuhan virus.


clinic director arrested / bribe from patients

The police say:

The newly appointed director of Clinic N12 told the employee to illegally collect fees from patients and pay him 50k/mo from that sum. The employee refused, quit, and contacted the police.

The police arrested the director today. A felony case is launched.

Anonymous portal to report corruption: https://www.azdararir.am/am/

Arm twist: https://youtu.be/xwFMVO0G0lU


Pashinyan convinced a man not to jump from a bridge

On Saturday, Pashinyan asked his car fleet to stop while traveling through Kievyan Bridge. A man was seen trying to commit suicide. The PM approached and convinced him to back away. He was transported to a hospital with a govt car. (setting unrealistic expectations for future Prime Ministers, don't you think, bruh?)

The man was discharged from the hospital the next day. He has a record of mental issues and a past suicide attempt. He was living in an orphanage. He described the motive behind the latest suicide attempt as the inability to own a house because his orphanage friends got free houses but he didn't (at least not yet).


real estate transactions rise

In January 2020 vs January 2019, the real estate transactions +18%.

Highest growth in Yerevan +31%. Lowest growth in Vayots Dzor +2%.

Inheritance was 16% of all transactions.

8% of transactions were rental (+70% vs Jan 2019).


the second transparency group to monitor army deaths

Last year Pashinhyan created a new transparency group consisted of NGOs and investigators to examine army issues and deaths.

A few months ago, several parents of deceased soldiers asked Pashinyan to intervene because they believed the investigators were covering up cases.

Yesterday, Pashinyan met the parents and decided to create the 2nd transparency group, which will have representatives appointed by the parents, and lawyers picked by the parents.

The parents were satisfied and decided to end their ongoing protests.


Maralik birth clinic going through a revival

On [Jan/8/2020](https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/elzgsq/jan82020_anticorruption_news_summary_stay/) we learned that Healthcare Ministry would shut down Maralik city's birth clinic because it has fewer than 150 births per year, lacks equipment and experts, which places babies' and mothers' lives at risk.

Although the clinic is suspended, steps are being taken to bring it back.

New equipment was donated. Employment contracts were signed with some doctors, with more contracts being negotiated ATM. The birth department itself was moved to a new facility. They're negotiating with donors to hold charity concerts to raise money for more equipment and higher salaries.



anti-Pashinyan judge to preside over Kocharyan ally's trial

"The most anti-Pashinyan judge" Alexander Azaryan, with a record of openly criticizing Pashinyan administration and releasing Kocharyan from jail in the past (before having his verdict overturned), rejected prosecutors' petition to recuse himself from Kocharyan's media magnate Tavadyan's trial.

Prosecutors complained that it took the judge only "seconds" to make a verdict not to recuse himself, "which means he could be biased."

The judge will decide whether Tavadyan, the owner of 5th Channel and other media outlets, should remain in jail pre-trial. He's charged with financing a pro-Kocharyan group that was caught on video bribing a March 1st victim to have them drop their claims.


Tags: #AlexanderAzaryan #Tavadyan

the other Kocharyan ally to remain in jail

Samvel Mayrapetyan, another pro-Kocharyan media and mining magnate, was earlier charged with serving as a middle man to transfer $7mln bribe to Kocharyan in the mining case involving businesswoman Silva Hambardzumyan who testified against the former regime.

Mayrapetyan was allowed to visit Europe for surgery. He didn't return.

Today the court issued an arrest warrant for him.


Pashinyan in Europe / Meets new EPP leader

Serj flew to Europe last week and met EPP party leader Donald Tusk.

Today Pashinyan went and met Tusk. "Thanks for coming. You and Armenia are our traditional friends... You can count on me as the new party leader... The Armenian diaspora in Europe has a high level of trust towards the new Armenian administration," said Tusk.

They spoke about judicial reforms, corruption, the upcoming Constitutional Court referendum.

The previous president of EPP, Joseph Daul, had earlier accused Pashinyan administration of "intimidating" Constitutional Court chief Hrayr Tovmasyan. Daul was replaced by Tusk a few months ago.


QP MP: I see no problem with Serj traveling and meeting abroad.

BHK MP: Serj is seeking help around the felony case launched against him.




largest export products in 2019

1) Copper $627mln

2) Tobacco $273mln

3) Cognac $253mln.

The volume of copper export is +32%. Revenue +19%. (YoY)

Biggest buyers: Bulgaria +13%, China +2x, Switzerland +70%, Canada +2x.

The copper prices are currently down because of Wuhan Walrus.


media outlet lures people / NO campaign accusations

An initiative called "Social Movement" was held in Govt's guest hall recently. Many of the attendees didn't even know what they were doing there.

The report says that SHANT TV agent paid people to attend there and serve as an audience. An ad was placed, saying "we need people to welcome the MPs and accompany them to their seats. It only lasts 10 minutes; we pay AMD 1200."

70 people went there but found themselves staying and listening to an MP's long speech. The conference was co-run by BHK MP Tigran Urikhanyan.

One of the attendees said it was a hybrid "NO campaign" meeting despite discussing various issues. Several attendees got upset and left. (the NO Campaign advocates for a NO vote on April 5th referendum)


The BHK MP uploaded the video from the meeting in which he bragged about the size of the crowd. "It's great that so many people have gathered today. If the Pashinyan administration [named indirectly] solved the problems that caused people to rise up in 2018, there wouldn't be so many people in this room today."


ArmTimes outlet spoke with the BHK MP.

Q: Mr Urikhanyan. Why were people paid to attend the meeting?

A: The movement wasn't organized by me. I only joined it later. I don't know who they invited. The room was big, you should ask all of them why they went there.


April 5th referendum

IND MP Babajanyan joined the YES campaign and traveled to rural areas to urge the population to vote YES. https://youtu.be/nNXHxz46XgI?t=8


Pashinyan will take a break from govt meetings and travel across Armenia to campaign in favor of a YES vote. He urged people and their families to join, create online groups, and raise awareness.

The YES campaign accused 3rd party groups of placing an illegal "YES" campaign placard on some building. "This wasn't done by our campaign." https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/182395


During a trip, Pashinyan made an unexpected stop at Gyulagarak village. The locals found out and came to greet him with claps.

An elderly lonely woman approached and asked to solve her housing problem. Then a younger man approached with the same problem, which raised Pashinyan's ire.

"That woman's case is understandable, she's old, lives alone, and the state is required to help her, but you're a young able-bodied man like me. Why are you asking me to give you a house? Sorry that I speak like this, but this is also a matter of dignity... Who gave a house to me? No one. I worked 24/7 and built a 3bd home in the 3rd Mas District. It ain't much, but I did it myself," said the agitated PM, who has a track record of speaking out against "govt handouts" while [passing bills]( https://armtimes.com/hy/article/161526) to encourage people to get busy.




Russian soldier gets lost

A Russian soldier Valeriy Sidorov and his GF Anastasia Gladkina went on a romantic trip to Trchkan Waterfall and lost their way back. They went to the area where every local knows you shouldn't go because of bears and wolves.

Their taxi driver waited a few hours and called 911 after becoming concerned.

The scared couple was found in a barn at 1:10 AM. They didn't make it to the waterfall. It was supposed to be a March 8th gift from the dude.



Angelina's heart surgery / First of a kind

Heart surgeons in Norq hospital made a breakthrough by doing a first of a kind heart surgery in Armenia on Lil Angelina. It went successfully.

It cost $100,000, from which 70k was paid by a charity and 30k by Healthcare Ministry.


Oil plummets / Currency / Neighbors

Saudis and Russians wanted to make more $ from oil. Last week they unsuccessfully tried to negotiate to reduce the production so the prices would artificially rise. The negotiations fell apart.

Saudis went berserk and gave massive discounts on their oil to strong-arm the others. Russia, Azerbaijan, Texas, and other oil states will hurt.

Only Saudis can keep the prices very low, have a decent economy, and keep the oil extraction profitable due to their oil being more easily extractable from the ground.

BRENT oil price dropped to $31 from >60 a few weeks ago. It was >$100 years earlier before the last massive fall.

When the last fall happened, Russian and Azeri economies were devastated, and currencies devalued.

Armenians paid less for fuel, but also earned less because of fewer remittances coming from family members working in Russia, and less trade with Russia due to their purchasing power decline.

In 2015 the remittances declined 23% after Ruble's devaluation. Today the Russian Ruble hit its lowest mark in 4 years versus Dollar

Azerbaijan had to cut its military expenditures last time. Their budget is written with an assumption that oil will be ~$55.





NSS busted director

Report says:

Between 2015-2020, the director of govt-funded Dzorak psychiatric center registered fake employees and stole 25mln in bogus salaries. He accepted patients without registering them in books, then demanded money from their relatives in exchange for providing care. A felony case is launched.


mass tree-planting operations

Armenia will plant 10 million trees soon. In Oct-1-2020, there will be a big event. Nature Ministry urges all able-bodied people to join the efforts.

Minister: In 2019 we planed 0.5mln trees.

Pashinyan: did you really plant those already?

Minister: Yes.

Pashinyan: why didn't you tell me. I would have added that to the [100-facts about Armenia]( https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/euic1c/jan262020_what_has_changed_in_armenia_under/) list.

Pashinyan: basically we plant 10mln trees on 10/10/20. Today we'll plant several tree seeds symbolically. I urge everyone to plant their own trees.

The PM and other guests then chose the types of trees they'll be planting, out of several approved ones. Ministry had to pick the types of trees that can grow and survive in the Armenian environment.

1:22 https://www.facebook.com/nikol.pashinyan/videos/203646424217337/

do you even drink cognac, bro?

43 million liters of cognac was produced in Armenia in 2019. That's +41% YoY. Exports +26%.


Proshyan Wine Factory produces 6k bottles per hour or 48k/day.

48,000 tons of grape purchased in 2019. That's +38% YoY.

80% of all grape was used on cognac.

Only 10% of cognac is consumed in Armenia.

The biggest buyer is Russia. Recently Belarus and Kazakhstan increased the demand. The factory is working with the EU.


The factory plays Aram Khachaturian music in storages to "enrich the product". մեղա-մեղա

Their 3 and 5-year-old wines received 90/100 points in an international quality-checking expo. The 7yo wine got 93pt.

The 5yo wine won Silver medal in the Mundial competition.


>60 firms produce wine and cognac in Armenia. They help farmers to better manage their land because ever-increasing exports will eventually demand more grape.

3-minute documentary https://www.facebook.com/armgovernment/videos/887080218396088/

Yerevan's first planetarium

Yerevan will have a planetarium where you can lay down and look at stars.

It did a test-opening on Saturday. They'll open for visitors on April 7th.

There will also be a film about the legendary Armenian astronomer Victor Hambardzumyan (the guy on 1000 Dram bill)

PICS and VIDEO of the organizer: https://youtu.be/hjEHGX0dV6E

fish selling to become illegal without a permit

Last year we learned that despite efforts to combat illegal fishing, it's still a lucrative business because there is a law that doesn't punish sellers who sell [illegal] fish.

Nature Minister Eric said they wrote a draft bill to require fish sellers to have a special permit. They will better monitor illegal fishing, but at the same time, they'll allow some capacity of legal fishing.

"There used to be dishonest nature protectors who colluded with fish poachers. They're going through felony trials now," said Minister Eric.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fg03az/mar92020_your_daily_news_summarized_todays_major/

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